Protecting children from pornography

Earlier this year, a deputy from the Linn County Sheriff’s office asked if I could do anything about protecting children from being shown sexually explicit material. He shared that during sex abuse investigations, he and his colleagues would often discover sexually explicit material on a video or DVD they felt was harmful to children. As a result, I began crafting a bill that would protect our children and provide a tool for law enforcement to combat this problem.

From my years at George Fox University in the counseling program, I knew . . . depending upon the age of exposure . . . the impact of pornography could be extremely harmful and would dictate how boys responded to relationships later in life.

Legislative Counsel (LC) Draft 87 addresses two areas of Chapter 167 of the Criminal Code; it criminalizes providing sexually explicit material to any child under age 13 and prohibits providing sexually explicit material to a minor under 18 if done for the purposes of luring the minor to engage in sexual conduct.
Over the years, the Oregon Supreme Court has found several portions of Chapter 167 unconstitutional under the mask of “freedom of speech.” Numerous criminal statutes existed without any teeth. The Criminal Justice Community just did not have the tools to protect our children. Well . . . LC 87 provides those tools.

I greatly appreciate those who have participated in the several work-group sessions we have held. Members from the District Attorney’s Association, Attorney General’s Office, ACLU, Legislative Counsel and Judiciary Counsel all worked hard with me to put this LC in the forefront. I greatly appreciate Senate Majority Leader Kate Brown’s involvement and support throughout the process. And I am thankful for the help Linn County District Attorney Jason Carlile provided during the work sessions as well.

Recently, Governor Ted Kulongoski recognized the effort involved in this bill by talking about it while visiting Portland, “This legislative concept is critically important because experts tell us that exposing a child to sexually explicit material””other than in an education or treatment setting””is harmful to the child’s psychological development.”

I feel this bill is laying the groundwork for several bi-partisan anti-crime bills in 2007. This time the focus is on children, and the goal is safeguarding Oregon’s kids from the growing threats of sex abuse, grooming and on-line solicitation.